Exactly one month ago today, shortly before my 56th birthday, I got braces.

Had I been the recipient of full disclosure about the particulars of this event, I would today be braceless before you.

While my life goes on, my book work continues, my groceries get bought and food actually does get eaten, the only moments when the metal in my mouth isn’t an issue occur when I am sleeping. Even then, I believe they are responsible for the Sahara-like dry mouth I wake up with most days, now that a bulldozer has taken up residence in my mouth.

If I’m not very careful, I still dribble when I drink from cups. Cutting meat with my teeth is pretty much out, and chewing lettuce is a big problem too, since my back teeth can’t touch all the way anymore. When I brush my teeth, I make a huge mess because I’m not able to spit the way I once was.

Many of these complaints can be blamed on my “turbos,” which are flat, metal spikes glued to the back of my two front teeth. They project back into my mouth and there’s almost no way I can find to hold my tongue that keeps it out of the turbos’ way.

Was I told about turbos? No. Not a word. But last time I was in the chair, I ventured to mention how much trouble I am having chewing food and brushing my teeth (i.e. the whole spitting/drooling part).

“Oh that’s your turbos,” I was cheerily told.

Giving these spikes a powerful name like Turbo is not amiss. These guys shorten the time you have to be in braces by 6 months or so. They were not around when I was a kid, but I’m hard put to feel grateful for their invention. Many patients with a bite like mine were once outfitted with braces on the upper teeth for 6 months before they could even begin treatment on the lower teeth — because their current bite would cause them to literally “bite off” the bottom braces if they were installed. So for 6 months, the dentist would resign himself to pushing out those front teeth to the prescribed angle, and THEN beginning work on the bottom teeth.

That won’t do anymore. We must hurry hurry and do it all at once. Ouch and ouch. Yes, I’m grateful for the shortened treatment, but man, do I hate these metal intruders.  They cannot come off quickly enough for me.

After hearing the rationale for them from my dental professional, I asked if I had to wear them the entire time. I don’t, but I forgot to ask for  their expected removal date. Whatever day that is, THAT’S the day I’ll be living for. I’m assuming it’s about 6 months in, so maybe 5 months from now I’ll get these things out …. does that sound right?  Can I make it that long?

Yes, yes. I hear you clucking your tongue (something I can no longer do) and tsk-tsking (ditto) and admonishing me to just buck up, be a good sport, chin up, take it like a … well, a child, in this case.

Not today. Today I am allowing myself to be dismayed that only 1 of my 18 months in braces has passed. One!

At this point I’m just hoping to regain my enjoyment of food sometime during this process. Right now, the fun has been sucked out of eating. It’s just a chore. And usually an unwelcome time of discovery, as I add in new foods and find most of them troublesome in one way or another. Sandwiches, one of my favorite lunches in braceless times, can only be consumed when alone. The amount of bread that collects in my front teeth with just one bite of my innocuous little turkey and lettuce concoction is staggering. And because my back teeth can’t completely meet (courtesy of those oh-so-effective turbos!) the part of my food that doesn’t get stuck in the braces can only be partially chewed. (A friend used the word cud, and it’s frighteningly, depressingly accurate.)

So I end up swallowing a lot of my food pretty much whole, and believe me, extracting the flavor and tickling your taste buds is pretty much impossible with this scenario.

I’ve resorted to making many fresh-fruit smoothies and they are saving my life. Super yummy and healthy too. You’d think I’d lose weight, I know, but even that little perk is denied me. I’m holding steady, when actually it’d be nice to drop a few pounds.

Meanwhile, bookwise, I’ve finished working with the surveys of the teenagers, and have moved on to the twentysomethings. I’m finding that women in this younger age range still leave lots of blanks on our survey, which isn’t surprising, because so many of them are still learning about their responses and their bodies. Once I finish the women in their 30s, it’s time to start writing the book chapter by chapter.

Yay! I’m so ready. And just maybe I’ll get so engrossed that I’ll finally lose touch with these annoying, intrusive TURBOS!


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5 Responses to “Disclosure”

  1. Lynn Says:

    Anne – what a beautifully written entry!! Good thing the braces aren’t on your fingers, so you can continue to update us! ; )

  2. annerodgers Says:

    Thank you, Lynn. You are such a pal to stay with me through the whinings! Believe me, I need my friends during this horrible, bracketed time!

  3. Sam LeForge Says:

    Anne, I do empathize! Your descriptive talents never cease to amaze me, they are so accurate. I know you are doubting this right now, but it WILL be worth it. Hang in there!

  4. annerodgers Says:

    Sam, I know you can identify. Thank you for the words of encouragement. I’ve got wads of wax on the turbos today so they don’t irritate my tongue. One day at a time …

  5. Dianne King Says:

    OMG I totally didn’t know about the turbos! And I’m so glad they are off as of today, months ahead of when you were afraid they’d be off. YUCK! and yah!

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